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Saturday August 15 2020
Failure is a fine line

The Champions League has again proved itself to be unpredictable and perhaps Juventus can re-evaluate the ‘failure’ tag when compared with Manchester City, writes Susy Campanale.

Maurizio Sarri was much-maligned for saying Juventus directors would be ‘amateurs’ to judge him on one Champions League match, but he was ultimately right. The decision to sack him had already been made, regardless of the result with Lyon. That’s just as well, because the 3-1 victory over Manchester City proved Juve were hardly the only victims of Rudi Garcia’s ruthless side. That same Pep Guardiola who Bianconeri fans have craved for years, the one they maintain will end the Champions League curse, has wasted millions on the transfer market only to see Max Allegri twice get closer than he did.

Juventus are obsessed with winning this trophy, but they’re not the only ones, they are simply insulted more for failing. Have they done any worse in the tournament than PSG, a side that scraped past Atalanta in stoppages for their first semi-final in decades? Or Manchester City, with Guardiola unable to get them into the final four throughout his extremely expensive tenure? How many more times are Guardiola’s fans going to excuse him with talk of bad luck when the quarter-finals are always his downfall?

The arrogance of the media in Italy and England when drawing Lyon came back to bite them. This side finished seventh in Ligue 1, but only after changing their coach midway through and being without Memphis Depay for most of the season. It would be like comparing the Milan that ended the campaign with the one we saw lose 5-0 to Atalanta in December.

How do you think Kylian Mbappé knows what ‘Farmers’ League’ even means? It’s because he saw it so much on social media from arrogant twerps who wanted to make themselves look good to their mates. So when he tweeted that out after Lyon eliminated Manchester City 3-1, it was the perfect response to months of childish insults based on nothing.

The top four teams in the Champions League are from France and Germany, the divisions most often referred to as ‘Farmers’ Leagues’ by people who also confidently claim Aston Villa could beat Bayern Munich and genuinely believe it. People who say Kalidou Koulibaly is over-rated, but also that Virgil van Dijk is better than Paolo Maldini ever was. You know the type.

The Champions League has always been a bit of a lottery, by no means always rewarding the best team throughout the competition, but rather those that finish the season with the most gas in the tank. That has never been more evident than after a pandemic that saw French and German teams get significantly more rest compared to the Spanish, English and especially Italians in the weeks before the European fixtures resumed. Without home and away legs, it takes on the added frisson of a World Cup tournament, where one bad day can destroy everything and there’s no making up for it. Get your tactics or starting XI wrong, and you’ve wasted at least half the tie. How many times would Bayern Munich have to play Barcelona again to get another 8-2 result?

Nuance has been almost entirely eradicated in the age of social media, so it’s no surprise to see it have the same effect on football. Allegri was not a failure for reaching the Final twice, yet he is far more harshly judged than Guardiola, largely by Juventus fans who so badly wanted Pep to replace him last summer. Imagine the Bianconeri keeping Guardiola during his recent Champions League track record, having spent a fraction of what he did at Manchester City. It just wouldn’t happen.

Italian football fans of other clubs constantly bring up the lack of European success at Juventus as if it were some sort of ‘proof’ that they only succeed in Serie A because of help from referees. That is nonsense. In that case, how do you explain Manchester City and PSG struggling to progress past the quarter-finals every single year? Some clubs are simply better suited to the long drag of a league format, rather than the more focused knockout round approach. That doesn’t negate everything they’ve done in other tournaments, nor make their entire season a failure.

I even read some claim it’s irrelevant how well Atalanta played, all people will remember is that they lost. In that case, why bother watching football at all? Just check the results, make your judgment, and move on. That feels like what some people are already doing, anyway, and it’s not what sport is about.

Have your say...
The simple correct thing is bring back Allegri.
on the 18th August, 2020 at 7:32am
@Ben,
and U still watch the Football, football become business is inevitable, its a going concern matter since Fiat need to advertise Jeep in the jersey, they need to win continuously, buy better players, and so on. spot on and just relax
on the 18th August, 2020 at 5:57am
oh jeez Luca, please don't read the editorial - how about the headline?
if juve [and no, they are not my 1st choice team] had headed a go-ahead goal, you can inverse the headline and it would still be true, success can be measured across a fine line. read what ALL coaches declare "skill, composure and a bit of luck"
how does a team have a disorderly 'house' winning title after title and walking onto the pitch as finalist contenders twice in just over as many years?
well played Susy
on the 18th August, 2020 at 12:44am
Different coaches have come and gone but I think it's Juve's mgmt that is problematic if not more and it's getting to a point where they can no longer hide and there's no one left to blame. Since Conte left its not really been an upward trajectory just simply maintaining what they have in a league bereft of other leaders such as Inter and Milan while digressing albeit very slowly but only because they have the finances to hide the problems but I think the cracks will only get bigger next season
on the 17th August, 2020 at 8:13pm
I have to agree with Luca. Using the failure of other teams, especially ones not in the same league, as an excuse for or to justify Juventus' shortcomings is weak journalism. I do agree the condescending attitude of the English media towards other leagues and teams, and bias in favour of British teams and players is pathetic. I can't even watch UEFA games on BT sports because of this - Robbie Savage's commentary in particular is cringe-worthy. And Sky Sports were no better when they showed UCL.
on the 17th August, 2020 at 3:47pm
...and nothing else). What is going on at Juve? I think it is becoming clear that the people in charge don't know what they are doing and tbh it is getting really amusing! What next? training with balloons instead of balls? change the badge to a corporate logo?... oh wait
on the 17th August, 2020 at 11:27am
Juve have clearly set their own standard of success and then failed miserably at attaining it. They sacked Allegri because he "failed" and now have to do the same again. Without Dybala, this season would have been a true failure by anybodies standards, he dug them out of sooo many holes after they desperately tried to sell him all last summer. With Bonucci and Chiellini past it, no midfield to speak of, and saddled with Ronaldo's wages and complete lack of team play (still a great finisher...
on the 17th August, 2020 at 11:19am
"Sarri did everything he could have"
Pretty much but he doesn't a have a big reputation so veteran players at big clubs like Juventus/Chelsea will always turn on him, especially when trying to institute a new system.
The fact that jj didn't even buy him a couple players just shows how much 'faith' they had in him lol
on the 17th August, 2020 at 8:37am
If wanting confirmation that this very well written column is accurate, all one has to do is read the comments below.
on the 17th August, 2020 at 7:40am
The reason why the result seems to be the only thing that matters is because football (like a lot of other sports) has changed from being a game which is played for fun to being a business upon which results are a major factor on how investable/profitable the company is. Because of that, some of the pure enjoyment of playing the game has gone.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 10:48pm
I wonder what will people say when Juve finally win UCL. Will they say Juve is still nothing compared to other big teams? I just wanna say, why would u count a lot on a team who started from Serie B, with a loan outstanding. Where are the great milan clubs, Liverpool and Barca now?
on the 16th August, 2020 at 7:04pm
Funny there’s juve fan here so insisting that their season isn’t a failure when they crashed out of UCL against the likes of Lyon. While clearly the management themselves are so obsessed with UCL, why do u think they changed their coaches? Don’t kid urself, If juve play like serie-B team but somehow able to win UCL, all hail the coach!
No point to make comparison with City or PSG. Yes they’re worse, so what? they’re getting big only recently. Look up to clubs like RM, Bayern, Liverpool, Barca.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 5:42pm
This is why I love Suzy, the best article I have read in a long while on footballitalia.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:53pm
Juventus under Allegri/Conte have been the most boring football team to watch. You cannot win CL with your Italian mentality of defence first. Give Allegri another 5 years and he will still not win the CL. Don't compare Sarri with Allegri. Sarri did everything he could have but these players did not follow his instructions.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:37pm
My issue isn't with Juve going out to Lyon but with Sarri's response that they actually performed better than expected. Some games just don't go your way but winning 2 in 7 is pretty awful. Sarriball might work for other teams but not Juve. Juve's problems have been mostly in midfield... Far too much deadwood and little creativity. I hope Pirlo can teach them something about supplying CR7 and Dybala.
For the rest, yes some luck is needed. PSG didn't have a tactic to win in stoppages.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 3:29pm
That article is extremely well put. Congradulations!
on the 16th August, 2020 at 3:17pm
Look its simple if Juventus want to win Champions League they might have to sacrifice SERIE A Scudetto for a while or they can forget about it.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 2:52pm
#2: Managers can do only so much tactically. There true purpose is have team prepared on game day to give their best effort. Transfer poise, confidence and desire to win.
It is the players and often luck that will find the result they deserve since players on this level are nearly equal. Of course there are the exceptional players in which winning is everything and prove it on the pitch.
Whether it's Sarri or Allegri or Pep the fine line comes from the heart and guts of players who want to win.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 2:24pm
Man City's defeat proves the old adage of "that is why you play the game".
Enough can't be said of the game that Lyon played and the great coaching job done by Garcia. Lyon finished 7th in Ligue 1 but has come into it's own in the tournament.
Once again the desire to win, play hard with confidence cannot be underestimated. A teams psychology on game day is a result of their self belief and leadership.
How bad do you want it? On the pitch Lyon wanted it and Guardiola had no answer.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 2:10pm
the author trying to defend juventus how they embarrassed italian football for 10 years. juventus twice on final ucl but failed to won its. you can argue atl madrid same twice on final but never won it either but atletico never spending what juventus spending on players+coach. and they always stick with diego simeone while juventus change coach 4x and they need spend unnecessary package when they sack a manager like allegri and sarri. even bought ronaldo still cannot win yet. how that even fine?
on the 16th August, 2020 at 2:07pm
@FI Staff
[The word limit on every comment on this blog is horrendous - change this ASAP !!]


@Luca

My point is - we are out, it's horrible. But we're not pathetic like ManCity who've invested $945m in last 7 years and yet haven't reached even 1 SF.

My point is, not winning a UCL isn't the worst thing, given you reach the SFs/Finals every 2-3 years, and given that Juventus reached 2 finals in last 7 years is more than most clubs barring Madrid. So we're not failures, unlike others.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 1:57pm
I wish they could adopt this format going forward (even tho they said they cannot). I mean 2 teams form bundesliga and 2 teams from ligue 1. The two leagues with who got the most rest lol. Is it a failure that Juve went this log without UCL, to an extent yes (the rebuilding years were horrible). I'm just glad Juve doesn't get thrown out via 8-2 and 7-1 aggregates etc. That is a true failure on all levels
on the 16th August, 2020 at 12:59pm
2.

If Juve had got their house in order over the last 3 or 4 years they would be the ones taking advantage of Barca, City and PSG struggling over the past few seasons as Bayern, Liverpool and Real have done. Juve could've been in that group but instead they go into the category of big teams losing to smaller teams and then making excuses.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 12:59pm
@ Pinturicchio

1.

Thank you you've provided a perfect example of my point. Your first defence was to tell me how Juve beat Lyon 2-1 but Man City lost to them 3-1. So what? Why are you bothered how City got on against them? The fact is both teams are out and Juve need to look within for answers instead of pointing fingers at other teams and telling us "Oh yeah we did bad but don't look at us, Man City did worse than us so we can't be that bad".
on the 16th August, 2020 at 12:55pm
This isn’t the thing that’s bugging me. It’s the cycle of football that is passing me off, it was the English teams in the mid 2000’s, Spanish teams the last decade, and now these semi-final are filled with German and French teams (albeit not the heavy hitters in that league expect maybe Lyon) but when is italy going to be back on the UCL stage?? I’m sick of seeing no Italians teams after the QF and I’m a milan fan so I know we got no chance but what about all the others. Why are we failing ??
on the 16th August, 2020 at 11:58am
As a Juventus fan, I've never wanted Pep Guardiola. I was pretty happy with Massimiliano Allegri.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 10:33am
There is no excuse for a team that has domenated Seria A for years they should have done much better in the CL, Man C and PSG have just started out compared to Juve and I sure they will win lt before Juve.
Juve have failed very badly for the last 25 yrs.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:54am
There is no excuse for a team that has domenated Seria A for years they should have done much better in the CL, Man C and PSG have just started out compared to Juve and I sure they will win lt before Juve.
Juve have failed very badly for the last 25 yrs.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:40am
Ha Ha! You know the type. Yes, we do Susy. Some people identify with their teams so much, that they take it as a personal insult when THEY lose! That's not joy + passion, it's ego, they want to be superior when THEY win. They believe their club has a divine right to win against the Lyon's + Leipzig's of this world! Since 96 Juve have reached 5 CL finals. How is that a failure? Its become an obsession due to the lost finals, I get it, but come on. Try supporting Bradford City for 35 years?
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:31am
@Luca

It's not about hiding under paper-thin alibis and blaming everyone except themselves.


Consider a 2-legged tie, we lost 2-2. Yes, we too knew this is it, but purely, on the night, we beat Lyon 2-1.


However, ManCity have no excuses, they knew they had only 1 chance and they lost 3-1. Would've been worse, had VAR actually looked at the shove in the back from Walker (clear penalty for Lyon) just before the 2nd Lyon goal.


So you can go back to sniffing glue, now, have a great Sunday.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:25am

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